Tips for Making Arrangements and Caring for the Terminally Ill
There are many types of terminal illness. While cancer and Alzheimer's are perhaps the best known, they all end in the same fate: death. When you are caring for someone with a terminal illness — or if you are diagnosed yourself — you have the benefit of being able to prepare for their ultimate fate. Even with advance notice, dealing with death is never easy.
The Initial Reaction
Pharmacy Times explains that there are five general reactions to a terminal diagnosis. These are denial, depression, anxiety, anger, and determination to overcome the disease. Help your loved one navigate their way through these emotions, which may be felt all at once or in waves. They may feel nothing at first, or they may accept their fate without a fight. Any reaction is a normal reaction since they have never dealt with this knowledge before.
There are many tasks that must be completed upon hearing the news of a terminal illness. Starting with legal issues, if your loved one is unable to make decisions for themselves, it’s wise to establish a power of attorney as soon as possible. This will give you the authority to make decisions regarding their health and treatment. Medicare.org notes that there are two types of power of attorney: conventional and healthcare; one does not automatically trigger the other. If your loved one is still of sound mind, work with them closely to finalize a living will and, if necessary, a Social Security representative.
In addition to planning an end-of-life directive, your loved one will also need to make a decision regarding their funeral. Types of funeral include traditional burial, cremation, and entombment. There are also memorial services to consider, especially if your loved one chooses to forgo a formal funeral. Having the arrangements in place prior to the death eliminates the chances of your loved one not getting the send-off they want.
Depending on their age and assets, now is the time to have them write a will or begin distributing family keepsakes to their children and grandchildren, siblings, uncles, and other relatives. This article offers insight on what do do when the decedent did not leave a will.
Even as death looms, life must go on, and your loved one will require care. This may be given at home by family or in a clinical setting, such as the hospital. Your loved one will require medical care — possibly at all hours — and may need assistance with bathing, eating, and other daily tasks. Make arrangements for family members to take turns with these responsibilities, and don’t be ashamed if you feel overwhelmed and need more help. There are many services out there that provide medical and assistive care for these situations.
Sickness is not cheap, and even with insurance, there are expenses that may have to be paid out of pocket. Figure out how these costs will be covered before you are hit with an unexpected bill later on. If your loved one has life insurance, see if they have a terminal illness rider, which will pay benefits now. Personal savings and Medicaid may be an option, with the latter only paying out once the former is exhausted. Further, there are thousands of disease- and income-based financial assistance programs that can help.
A terminal illness is one that cannot be cured. While you should seek a second opinion if you are uncomfortable with the original diagnosis, this time should be focused on comfort, care, and closure. Help your loved one tie up loose ends by walking them through the legal issues related to death and by giving them the most love they’ve ever experienced.
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